The New England hockey community lost one of its most inspirational figures Thursday with the passing of Travis Roy.
Roy, who grew up in Yarmouth, Maine, was paralyzed from the neck down 11 seconds into his first collegiate shift at Walter Brown Arena as a member of the Boston University Terriers. He become an inspiration for hockey players, spinal cord injury survivors and people of all ages and backgrounds across the world.
Son of Lee Roy and Brenda Roy and brother of Tobi, Roy passed away at the age of 45. A note from sister Tobi said, “Trav passed away peacefully today at 1:45 p.m. Mom, Dad and I were at his side and he was comfortable, in no pain and is finally free of his wheelchair. We cannot thank you all enough for your love and support.”
BU and “Miracle On Ice” legend Mike Eruzione tweeted: “Perhaps the saddest day in the history of Boston University hockey and yet Travis has become a role model for so many people and the money he has raised over the years has helped so many.”
New England Hockey Journal spotlighted Travis in the September 2017 magazine in our “Top 100 Most Influential People in New England Hockey” feature. Below is the full text from that feature.
MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE IN NEW ENGLAND HOCKEY
Founder | Travis Roy Foundation
Growing up in Yarmouth, Maine, Travis Roy — then, a promising prospect from prep power North Yarmouth Academy — set playing college hockey as a lifelong dream.
On Oct. 20, 1995, that dream became reality, and his life also changed forever. After crashing into the corner boards just 11 seconds into his first collegiate shift at Walter Brown Arena, Roy cracked his fourth and fifth cervical vertebra, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.
Rehab and recovery followed, and he has since gained some movement back in his right arm. Roy’s courage and positive energy quickly made him one of the most inspiring figures on the Boston sports scene, backed by a large group of supporters including former BU coach Jack Parker (Somerville, Mass.) and a foundation that bears his name.
Roy, who returned to BU less than one year after his accident to earn his degree in four years, authored a memoir titled “Eleven Seconds” along with Sports Illustrated’s E.M. Swift, detailing his journey. He also is a frequent motivational speaker around New England.
Roy’s legacy still lives on at BU, as his No. 24 hangs next to Parker’s No. 6 as one of two the Terriers have retired in the Agganis Arena rafters.
So, too, does his encouraging spirit.
“Once I decided I did want to live, I realized I could live according to the same values that made me successful before my accident,” Roy said at a Travis Roy Foundation gala in 2015. “I feel so loved. I realize that my work is my new dream, and that’s what fuels me.”
— Joshua Kummins
“It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Travis Roy,” BU Athletics said in a statement. “His story is the epitome of inspiration and courage, and he was a role model and a hero to so many people. Travis’ work and dedication towards helping fellow spinal cord-injury survivors is nothing short of amazing. His legacy will last forever, not just within the Boston University community, but with the countless lives he has impacted across the country. Our sincere thoughts are with his wonderful family as well as his vast support group of friends and colleagues.”
Five years ago, Roy was celebrated in a gala at Agganis Arena by BU and the city of Boston, which declared October 20 “Travis Roy Day.”
“Twenty years ago tonight, I lived out my dream of playing Division 1 hockey,” Roy said at the Agganis gala. “The 11 seconds at Walter Brown Arena playing for Boston University were the best 11 seconds of my life.” He added that evening, “My work on the Travis Roy Foundation alongside my friends and family has helped me create a life that is very rich, very much worth living. I feel so loved.”